Santa Monica Mountains Trail Planning

Dusty Bottoms

Sep 10, 2001
Santa Monica
I took the time to attend the SMMNRA(Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area) Trail Planning meeting last Saturday, and found it to be very informative. The trail planning process is a long 10 year affair and we are currently in the "public comment" period of this process. The NPS, California state parks, and the SMMNRA have banded together to form a cohesive unit to tackle the monumental task of creating a plan for this huge mountain area, which is situated in one of the biggest cities in the world. I do not envy them at all.

Anyway, the meeting went very smoothly, with about 20 people in attendance, and I quite possibly was the only mountain biker there. It started with a 30 minute slide show that basically told everyone how to decipher the various maps that were presented just outside the auditorium. Then we were asked to review the maps so we could comment on their accuracy and more importantly which "Alternate" plan we would prefer be implemented. Here's a quick paste job from CORBA's website about the various plans.

Each of the alternatives grows the trail system and provides even more opportunities for bikes. Most of the new trail miles in the alternatives come from converting "social" or unofficial trails into official designated trails. According to NPS numbers, there are currently 797 miles of trails in the Santa Monica?s (single-track, fire roads and even some paved roads). These include 484 miles of official trails, 171 miles of unofficial trails, 48 miles of utility easements, and 94 miles of proposed new trails. In the current system, there are 290 miles of multiple use trails (60%), 96 miles of equestrian-hiker trails (20%) and 97 miles of hiker-only trails (20%).

In the high use alternative, there would be 732 miles of trail. 532 miles would be multiple use (73%), 92 miles would be equestrian-hiker (13%), and 106 miles would be hiker-only (14%).

In the hybrid use alternative, there would be 704 miles of trail. 451 miles would be multiple use (64%), 144 miles would be equestrian-hiker (20%), and 108 miles would be hiker-only (15%).

In the low use alternative, there would be 648 miles of trail. 339 miles would be multiple use (52%), 193 miles would be equestrian-hiker (30%), and 115 miles would be hiker-only (18%).

Clearly, the high use alternative is best for bicyclists. There will be more trails for everyone and more of the trails will be open to bikes. This is good recreational planning. It best provides a diversity of experiences, dispersion of use and the opportunity for building a trail community. It still leaves a substantial number of trails open only to hikers and equestrians. No one can argue that they don't have a place to go without bikes. Support the high use alternative.

It's also worth noting that both the high use and hybrid alternatives designate the Backbone Trail as multiple use. As the premier long distance public trail in the Santa Monica's (and the one that's cost the most public funds), CORBA has always argued for this trail being completely open to bikes. Two of the alternatives make this happen. Both of these alternatives also show the needed re-route of the Backbone around the CA State Wilderness near Sandstone Peak. A proposed new trail would go from Circle X, north through Carlyle Canyon, skirting Conejo Peak over to Rancho Sierra Vista. Mountain bikers need to support this vision of the Backbone Trail.

So please take a minute to review the rest of the information on these websites: